This is a classic gingerbread loaf. The core of this recipe comes from Polish Regional Cuisine (published in 1991). The recipe below is our take on this classic gingerbread cake.
You will get vibrant and golden in colour gingerbread with lovely closed-knit and moist crumb. This spiced bread matures beautifully and is good to enjoy for a number of days.
This delicious spiced loaf is sweetened with honey. The moisture comes from addition of cloudy wheat beer. As a result you get beautiful closed crumb which is moist and soft! A real treat for lovers of spices. It’s sweet and it is cake-y. There is no need for butter! The loaf keeps fresh for 2-3 weeks (wrap in linen or dry kitchen towel and store in cool and dry place). After first week the loaf will turn from cake-y to ginger-bread-like texture (thinking more of original ginger-bread loaves!). For this bake we are using our favourite butter-rum glaze from ‘Sweet’ (by Helen Goh and Yotam Ottolenghi).
For a good bake:
- Spices - if you want your gingerbread to last and taste fantastic - don’t take shortcuts and mix your own spices (if you are not up for it - use 1 and 1/2 Tbsp gingerbread spice).
- Zesty notes - rub lemon and orange zests into sugar to release zesty flavour. Use organic, unwaxed lemons and oranges.
- Texture - beat soft butter with sugar until pale and creamy (5min). Use eggs at room temperature.
- Beer - use cloudy wheat beer (German wheat beers would be best).
- Beer and honey (together with spices) are flavour carriers in this gingerbread - so feel free to experiment but the bright wheat beer mixed together with bright and light organic honey will bring you closest to traditional lebkuchen/piernik flavour. I usually use Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier or Smithwick's Blonde Ale.
- Did I mention beer?.. so, beer again - make sure it's at room temperature! Otherwise you will end up with underbaked bottom (dark line at the bottom) and texture will suffer.
- Honey - use light honey (acacia, linden flower honey), it should have runny consistency and be at room temperature when mixed with beer.
- Baking soda - in this spiced loaf only small amount of soda is used (flat 1/2 tsp) - it’s not a mistake :). Creaming, eggs, beer - all these ingredients bring the volume (no soda aftertaste and good crumb texture).
Brewer's Gingerbread Recipe
Yield: 12 servings
Time: 30 min prep + 55 min baking
Tin: 10cmx20cm loaf tin (2lb)
- 200g all purpose flour
- 50g rye flour (weak) - recommended but if you can't get it replace with ap flour
- 1 and 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (or star anise)
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp (flat, 2.5g) baking soda
- 50g caster sugar
- 50g light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
- zest from 1 lemon
- zest from 1/2 orange
- 165g good honey, room temperature
- 125ml cloudy wheat beer, room temperature
- 125g unsalted butter, room temperature (soft but not oily)
- 3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 80g confectioners’ sugar
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 15g unsalted butter, melted and warm
- 1 Tbsp golden rum
- 1 tsp warm water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 190C (170C fan forced). Brush bottom and sides of the tin with thin layer of butter, line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Prepare dry ingredients: Mix all purpose flour, rye flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, ground pepper, baking soda and then sift all dry ingredients. Set aside.
3. Prepare zesty sugar: In a small bowl mix brown sugar, caster sugar, coarse salt, orange and lemon zests. Rub zests into sugars - use your finger tips (to release zesty flavour).
4. Mix beer with honey until honey is fully dissolved (make sure beer is at room temperature) and cover with a lid.
5. Combine: Beat butter for 2 minutes until creamy (paddle attachment or handheld mixer), then start adding zesty sugar (from Step 3), 1 Tablespoon at a time and beat until creamy and fluffy - 4-5 minutes (scrape sides of the bowl every so often to make sure sugar is incorporated evenly). Start adding egg yolks - one at a time, mixing on medium until incorporated. Add beer/honey mixture (from Step 4) and mix on low-medium until incorporated. The mixture will split - that’s ok (don’t beat for too long, that’s they way it is to look - make sure there is no beer residue at the bottom of the bowl). In two turns add dry ingredients (from Step 2) and mix on low (paddle attachment) or use spatula, stir until incorporated (don’t over-mix). Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold in into the gingerbread batter. Don’t over-mix and try to keep as much volume as you can. Transfer the batter onto the baking tin.
6. Bake for 30min at 190C (170C fan forced), then for 25min at 175C (155C fan forced).
7. Rum-butter glaze: Sift sugar and cinnamon, add melted warm butter, rum, lemon juice and water and mix until smooth. Brush gingerbread when still warm. If you notice the glaze thickens too much - add few drops of warm water.
Jazz it up:
1. Beer and honey - bring out richer caramel flavour - swap cloudy wheat beer for stout or dark ale, choose rapeseed flower or field mustard honey and replace light brown sugar with dark Muscovado sugar.